India to take up mission spying issue with US

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IndianeNew Delhi, July 3;Concerned over the “disconcerting” reports that its mission was being spied upon by American intelligence agencies, India on Wednesday said it will take up the matter with U.S. authorities.

“We have seen and studied the media reports of our embassy in Washington being amongst the list of diplomatic missions which were intrusively monitored by the U.S. agencies.

“Obviously, we are concerned at such disconcerting reports and we will certainly raise with the U.S. authorities these serious allegations,” spokesperson in the External Affairs Ministry said in New Delhi.

He was asked about India’s position on recent revelation that Indian Embassy in the U.S. was among the list of 38 diplomatic missions which were being spied upon by American intelligence agencies, as per the latest top secret U.S. National Security Agency documents leaked by the whistleblower Edward Snowden.

On External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid’s remarks defending the vast U.S. surveillance programme, for which the Minister received a lot of flak from opposition parties as well as several commentators, the spokesperson, said, “Our views remain what we have said previously, that we were concerned.”

However, he maintained that the Minister was “only elaborating” on his discussions with the U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry during his last meeting on the issue.

Mr. Khurshid had said in Brunei on Tuesday that “this is not scrutiny and access to actual messages. It is only computer analysis of patterns of calls and emails that are being sent. It is not actually snooping specifically on content of anybody’s message or conversation.”

The remarks appeared to dilute the stand of the Ministry which had initially termed as “unacceptable” any privacy violation after Mr. Snowden, a former technical assistant for CIA, had blown the lid off the U.S. secret spy programme.

As per the leaked documents, India has emerged as the fifth most tracked country by the U.S. intelligence which used a secret data-mining programme to monitor worldwide internet data.

The MEA spokesperson also said “since these are technical issues, this will be taken up during cyber security dialogue and that is the right forum.”

The spokesperson, however, said there was a difference between the vast U.S. surveillance programme, which included metatext and assessment of the metatext, and intrusive monitoring of the mission.

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